What do you like to take your time with and why?
The second hand of the clock drummed a steady beat. In the pregnant silence, everything slowed to meet it. Romy loved this moment the most.
Her breath stretched out as she counted the seconds. One. Two. Three. Four. She raised her arms to shoulder height. Gently, she pushed her hands down and rolled them over each other, her right hand above the left, as if holding a ball. She held the position for four seconds.
The holding wasn’t required. That was something Romy liked to do on her own. There was a pace, of course, for the sequence of the steps when done properly. Each one was supposed to flow seamlessly into the next.
That was the part she struggled with. No matter how many times she repeated the forms, they were always rigid, controlled but mechanical. Her instructor told her she had excellent form, that her technique was flawless, but until she found the flow, she would never truly master it.
She exhaled as she shifted into the Ward step. She executed it with an elegant grace. To an untrained observer, she might have been dancing. It was a dance, in a way, but Tao would never acknowledge her to lead the class for dancing.
She took her time as she practiced the forms. She repeated them over and over, holding them between each transition, trying to picture the flow, to feel it. What was she missing?
“Stop thinking about it.”
Her heart nearly leapt out of her throat. She hadn’t heard her instructor arrive. She snapped to the first stance and bowed deeply. “Sorry.”
Tao was a tall man. He had a perpetual scowl thanks to a particularly nasty scar on his lip, but he was never as harsh as his features would suggest. “Romy. You know these steps. Why do you think about them?”
“Well, it’s just that I can’t feel it if I’m not thinking about it.”
He shook his head as he walked to the center of the practice room to join her. He took the preparation stance and glanced down at her. “Don’t think. Just do.”
They faced forward towards their reflections on the mirrored wall. It was hard to keep up with him after practicing at a quarter tempo all afternoon. They went through all 24 forms a dozen times. He was never satisfied, but he insisted they keep trying.
It was exhausting, but eventually her brain stopped trying to focus on her movements. She was able to stop thinking for a bit as she watched Tao in the mirror. She saw the subtle differences between his motions and her own, and they entranced her.
They were the same steps, the same forms, identical except for something she couldn’t quite describe. It wasn’t just his body moving. Or rather, he wasn’t moving his body. There was an energy about his movements, connecting them.
To her surprise, she could feel a similar energy pulsing within her. She turned her mind to the energy. Her body would continue the motions, she didn’t need to focus on them anymore. The energy, however, wanted to move as well. She directed it through her arms and legs.
In the mirror, she saw the same fluidity in her movements as Tao. There was a small smile on his lips as they finished the sequence. When it was over, she flexed her hands in awe. “That was weird.”
“That was flow,” he said. “Shall we go again?”
“Yes!” She wanted to feel that sensation again.
Notes: I didn’t really know what to do with this one. Somehow it came around to Tai Chi. When I was attending my local community college, we were required to take so many gym credits. There was a Tai Chi class and it seemed interesting so I signed up. It was a neat experience, especially the first time I achieved the “flow” the instructor kept talking about. It was like I went from the lower percentile of the class to the top.
He started using me as a reference and wanted me to TA during the following semester. (I had to decline because I was transferring, but it was an honorable sentiment.) I’m pretty sure I ended up with the only A on the final performance. I haven’t done it in years, though looking up references for this bit once I realized the character was taking her time with Tai Chi, makes me want to look up videos to refresh my memory and start doing it again.
Anyway. The weekend is here! I’m gonna go sleep for eternity. Really take my time with it. Have a great weekend!
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